I fought the tree and the tree won

You know those safety messages that flood the media during the spring planting and fall harvest seasons? Farmers get in a hurry to put the crop in the ground after the snow melts and then get the crop in the bins before the snow flies again. They sometimes forget that cutting corners can lead to injury.

Well, the same can be said for clearing away tree limbs and cleaning up branches after that awful ice storm left tree debris on farm fields, across field driveways and on top of pasture fences.

I spent much of the day Saturday pulling downed limbs with the four-wheeler at the family farm. By the end of the day it looked like we’d made very little progress —the big picture is still a bit too overwhelming.

A more telling picture of the work accomplished might be better shown by looking at my arms. They look like I’ve been in a fight with a sharp-clawed farm cat.

I was poked and scraped and practically mauled by tree limbs, and the glorious sunshine left me with something worse than a farmer’s tan — a farmer’s tan that ends just above the wrists because of the fashionable brown Jersey gloves protecting my hands. Oh well, the sunburn has already started to fade, making the lines much less noticeable; and my injuries could have been much worse.

Still, I took my share of dares with the trees.

At one point, I’d positioned the four-wheeler underneath and slightly west of a dangling tree limb on the back side of the grove. I took the ATV out of gear (good safety habit), stood up and yanked on a branch in a game not unlike tug-of-war. I pulled, the tree cracked, I pulled some more and the tree cracked some more … and then it went boom. It didn’t put any cracks in the plastic fender of the four-wheeler, but one of those pesky branches put a not-so-nice black-and-blue mark on my arm. It’s still a bit tender to the touch.

That’s the only mark I can accurately source. The other cuts and scrapes weren’t even noticed until I’d cleaned up for the night.

I probably shouldn’t mention the hit made to my farm girl pride — courtesy of an ever-watching dad who said I “wasn’t doing it right.” The “it” in this case was hauling branches. (I’d been holding onto a branch and dragging it behind the four-wheeler.) Once he showed me how to work the log chain, I could move three or four large branches at a time. Somewhere in there you can envision a father saying “I told you so.”

On a positive note, I did learn how to use a log chain, and it worked quite well. I also learned how to use a chainsaw because, for the first time in 42 years, my dad thought I was finally old enough to be trusted with a dangerous power tool.

Liberating? I’m not sure. As far as I can tell, my newly acquired skills just mean I can do more work on the farm.

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